This page is part of a website based on the life and achievements of eighteenth-century inventor Henry Cort.Please email site controller Eric Alexander with any comments or queries.





Set up as the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce in 1754, soon became known as the Society of Arts.


A letter from Mr Abram Darby was read accompanying a Present of a Model in Mahogany of the Iron Bridge.

From minutes of Society of Arts, 24 October 1787


Still going strong, having become the Royal Society of Arts early in the twentieth century.


Their website tells you a lot about their history, but not their link with Henry Cort.


The link has two phases.


First is in the 1780s, when he becomes a member.


He is proposed for membership in October 1787 by Francis Stephens (probably related to Sir Philip Stephens, one of the longest-serving civil servants in naval administration).In January 1790 Francis will be appointed Commissioner of Victualling for the Royal Navy.


If he is familiar with navy victualling before that, he will doubtless appreciate Cort's provision of hoops: doubtless the basis of his support for Cort's membership of the Society.


Cort does not remain a member for long.His last entry in the Society's records is 9 March 1789.


Since his business collapses a few months later, we can assume he has failed to pay his next subscription.


I have not managed to check how many of signatories to the 1791 petition are Society members.But one signatory, Sir Watkin Lewes, is the Societyís Vice President at the time.


Moving on to 1855, we find his son Richard has several friends among Society members.


We have noted in particular the parts played by Charles Sanderson, David Mushet and Thomas Webster.


It is time that the name of Cort should no be longer excluded from its authentic position in the catalogue of national worthies.

From letter of David Mushet jnr in Journal of Society of Arts, 21 September 1855.


Others members particularly sympathetic to Cort are Sir Richard Broun ("author of works on heraldry, agriculture, colonisation, sanitation etc" according to the ODNB) and inventor William Fairbairn.


Local committees should be formed in the principal seats of the iron trade, for the purpose of aiding and assisting Mr Cort to bring his claims effectively before the House of Commons during the course of the ensuing session, and also that the Committee of the Society should have five or six of this number to cooperate with and act as a central branch for such local committees.

From letter of Richard Broun in Journal of Society of Arts, 24 August 1855.


Harry Scrivenor and J. Kenyon Blackwell are members well acquainted with the iron trade.






Related pages


Cort's birth

Generosity of friends 1789-94

1791 petitioners

Cortís twilight years

Publications about Cort

Memorials to Henry Cort

Images of Henry Cort

Henry Cortís character

Parliamentary Inquiry 1811-12

The furore of the 1850s

1856 accolade

Cortís patents

Refutation of allegations of conspiracies against Cort

Main sources of information

Contemporary documents

Navy sources

Chancery files


Life of Henry Cort




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